An epidemic outbreak of whooping cough has the government initiating a free vaccine program in Western Australia.
Associate Professor Peter Richmond, a child health expert states that there is a high transfer of the disease in families as parents who have not been immunized and who are unaware of having the infection themselves, pass it onto their young children. "Unfortunately young babies who are too young to be vaccinated, less than two months of age, are the ones who get the most severe disease and occasionally death," he said.
Whooping cough known also as pertussis, is an acute respiratory infection, which is transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. It is the cause of severe health problems in young babies, which may include pneumonia, seizures and in some cases, permanent disability or death. Epidemic outbreaks have occurred at regular intervals in Western Australia, and the last one was in 2004.
The Health Minister Kim Hames has urged parents to take their babies to maternity hospitals and community health immunization centers where vaccines are freely available until the end of June.